21st Jun2019

‘Brightburn’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Abraham Clinkscales, Christian Finlayson, Jennifer Holland, Emmie Hunter, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Becky Wahlstrom, Terence Rosemore, Gregory Alan Williams, Elizabeth Becka, Annie Humphrey | Written by Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn | Directed by David Yarovesky


Brightburn is directed by David Yarovesky and is the first and seemingly last entry in the shared nepotism universe of the Gunn family. Produced by James Gunn and written by Brian and Mark Gunn, Brightburn follows Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as married couple Tori and Kyle Breyer who are one night shocked to discover an unknown terrestrial object crash land outside their farm. On discovery, they find a baby boy, who they take in as one of their own as son Brandon. Hidden from the truth of his origin and beginning to develop into a young man, on his twelfth birthday Brandon’s life slowly begins to unravel resulting in traumatising and haunting consequences.

Brightburn takes the age-old conventional origin story of the protagonist (in this case Superman/Clark Kent) switches the tone up to dramatically to horror and intensifies the switch from hero to villain. The result on paper is an intriguing and spectacular story in what is essentially a subverted conviction of a saturated convention. The end result, however, is quite the different tale to the one intended. What you’ll notice before anything else is the execution of the R-rating. To the film’s credit it no doubt goes for it. Four letter expletives aside, there is no holding back in scenes of horror and gore, especially that in the case of the latter. Such moments engulf the screen with how sickly and disturbing they are expressed with delightful execution, but even when the film is trying its hardest to subvert a genre it overly depends on the other with a poor balance sought.

On the nose is perhaps an understatement. An incredibly conventional and overly strong usage of colour is exercised that feels far too embellished and slightly overdramatic for the intended purpose. Banks and Denman are fine. They give nothing more or nothing less in their respective performances. Banks has the more central figure due to her arc with Brandon but the connection between the two is plastered to a staggering degree of repetition and before long becomes wearisome and dull. Denman shows his acting chops to a larger degree than being cornered as the husband to Pam on The Office and suffices with a performance that has a tremendous amount of emotional weight, but the film fails to serve said character justice in the films third act. Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon is hit and miss. The stoic intensity he conveys, as well as his emotional disposition, is well executed but the conviction of intensity is flat and that of what a twelve-year-old child has. Which is stupid and noneffective, to say the least; it lacks any and all intensity and diminishes the resulting brutality the character rampages on.

Character decisions, in particular, are truly pathetic and absurdly counter-intuitive purely to prolong the falsified tension of the plot, of which this film complete and utterly fails to convey in any form of impact. Purely out of the disastrous decision to structure the film in the way it has been put together. Its all out of sync with building any form of an atmosphere of which the film gives way the climax in the opening scene. There is a distinguished and contextually ambivalent use of tone but only when the film wants to be ambiguous, which lasts for a total of ten minutes per se. If the film would’ve perhaps chosen to pull back from obviously stating what Brandon is and instead implied small subtle elements of his true parentage the film has so much more potential tension and anxiety to induce its audience with. Without said construction, sadly, Brightburn fails to craft anything more than a dull misfired subverted superhero tale that does more to stress than dearly impress.

Brightburn is in cinemas now.


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